Sep 07, 2017 EUROPE (SUN)
On the Dandavats website there is a reposting of the EuroGBC statement about Bhaktivinoda Thakura. The statement implies that Bhaktivinoda was a sadhana-siddha because it claims that he had philosophical doubts about Vaisnavism in his early days. Although I wrote a response to this last year, something further should be said.
Srila Prabhupada indicated in a letter to Madhusudana that Bhaktivinoda Thakura's apparent leanings towards impersonalism was just a lila, just like Arjuna's apparent bewilderment on the battlefield of Kuruksetra.
"Regarding your questions, 'I read in a book sent from India that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was sent directly by Lord Sri Caitanya from the spiritual sky. I am not sure if the book was bona fide. Is the above true? Someone, a Godbrother brought up that he heard that Srila Bhaktivinoda was at one time an impersonalist. Was he ever?' Yes, what you have heard is all right. Just like Arjuna is constant companion of Krsna, as it is confirmed in the 4th chapter, Krsna says that both Arjuna and He appeared many times in this world, but he had forgotten his past appearance and Krsna did not. Krsna is like the sun and maya is just like the darkness. When Krsna is present there cannot be any darkness of maya. So as Arjuna although always in the presence of Krsna as eternal companion in friendship, still he had some illusion on the battlefield of Kuruksetra and Krsna had to dissipate the darkness by the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. The purport is that sometimes even a liberated person like Arjuna plays the part of a conditioned soul in order to play some important part. Similarly, Bhaktivinoda Thakura for some time was associating with the impersonalists and then he exhibited himself in his true color as pure devotee, exactly in the same way as Arjuna exhibited in the beginning as a conditioned soul, and then as a liberated soul. So there is nothing to be misunderstood in this connection. Krsna and His devotees sometimes play like that, as much as Lord Buddha, although an incarnation of Krsna, preached the philosophy of voidism. These things are conducted in terms of place, audience, time, etc. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that the activities of the Vaisnava cannot be understood even by the greatest scholar. So we have to understand everything through the transparent via media of the spiritual master. So there is no doubt about it that Bhaktivinoda Thakura is eternal energy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And whatever he did, was just to suit the time, place, circumstances, and etc."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Madhusudana, 20th November, 1968)
There is also evidence that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja and Sridhara Maharaja all considered Bhaktivinoda Thakura to be a nitya-siddha. And in recent times, Gaura Govinda Maharaja, Rocana Prabhu, Satsvarupa Maharaja and Back to Godhead magazine have also presented Bhaktivinoda as nitya-siddha.
So on whose authority can the GBC present a different conclusion?